After choosing, planning and explaining your youth group game. Now comes the fun bit. The bit where you actually get to play the game with your group.
Now you have already of course planned out how you will explain your game so this post is not going to cover that. No, this post is going to give you 3 top tips to use when you are actually running the game. Those three tips are:
- Use Effective Management Strategies
- Avoid the ‘C’ word
- Stop. Re-explain
Use Effective Management Strategies
When you’re running a youth group game, you need to ensure that you have effective management strategies in place so that you can control your youth group. Without control you will have chaos, and in the end chaos is no fun. As much as kids will initially think that running around doing whatever they want is fun, they will eventually get bored.
So you need management strategies to control your group. I’m not going to give an extensive list of management strategies and explain them all (note to self: write a series on management strategies for youth groups). Instead I’m going to give you some guidelines.
- Firstly, this is a youth group and not a classroom. You don’t need everyone to be silent all the time, but you do need to make sure that they are listening to everything that you say. If they’re not, they wont know how to play the game and will get bored.
- Secondly, create some type of signal that will get everyone’s attention. This could be something that you do or it could be something that is common throughout your youth group. It could be something as simple as clapping a pattern and expecting everyone to follow you. Or you could get creative and make it so that when you call out a phrase, your group must respond in kind. e.g. You say: “Whoa, we’re halfway there” and your group responds: “Whoa, livin’ on a prayer”. Be creative, you get the picture.
- Finally, make sure that you maintain respect of the kids in your group. If you have their respect they will listen to you. Hopefully this will be an attitude throughout your youth group where all kids respect all leaders. But I wanted to emphasise this point. The easiest way to manage a group is to ensure that they respect you.
Avoid the ‘C’ Word
When playing a game of any kind, everyone wants to push the rules for their advantage (especially those of us who can get a bit competitive). When this goes to far, people love to use the ‘C’ word and call others CHEATERS. It’s a good practice to try and get rid of this word from your youth groups vocabulary. And this comes straight from a loving attitude from the leaders.
However, you can help this attitude along. During the explanation for a game, and throughout the game itself, emphasise to the kids that you don’t want to hear anyone using the ‘C’ word. For a few reasons:
- You don’t want anyone cheating in the first place. Everyone should be aiming to have fun, and most importantly, should be helping others to have fun.
- It doesn’t help anyone when someone calls out a cheater. It just ruins the game. The better attitude to have is to ignore it. They are ruining the game for themselves and you will have much more fun if you don’t let them ruin it for you. However, if someone is constantly cheating and ruining the game. Encourage your kids to quietly tell a leader, rather than yelling it across a room.
- It’s not very nice. Being a cheater isn’t loving anyone and calling someone a cheating isn’t loving them either.
Encourage your group not to speak of the ‘C’ word, remove it from your youth groups vocabulary.
Although you may plan and plan and plan your game, and although you may think you’ve explained it perfectly, sometimes the game just doesn’t work the way you wanted it to. In this case, instead of letting the game flounder, STOP.
Stop the game.
Bring everyone back together and explain rules that you think need explanation. You may even add new rules or clarify existing ones. Do whatever you think needs to be done in order for the game to run smoothly.
If you don’t stop the game, everyone will get frustrated. Stopping the game is not admitting defeat. It’s changing tac, starting a new course and hoping that the new course will help you reach your goal. Whatever that may be.
I hope these 3 top tips have been helpful in thinking about how you’ll run your next youth group game. They have definitely served me well over the years!